Leading up to kickoff on the Ponderosa, TSD is ranking the 10 best players currently on LSU’s roster. We’ll take a close look at each Tiger, breaking down his career to this point and projecting impact for the 2015 season.
We’ve already profiled:
No. 5 Vadal Alexander
Today, at No. 4, we highlight another veteran offensive lineman set to take over at left tackle — Jerald Hawkins
WHAT HE’S DONE SO FAR
Jerald Hawkins came to LSU as a three-star prospect, the No. 38 recruit nationally at his position. He was the lowest ranked of the three high school linemen LSU signed in 2012, but Hawkins quickly emerged as one of the best on the roster. After redshirting in 2012, Hawkins won the starting right tackle job in fall camp before the 2013 season.
Hawkins has started all 26 games in the last two seasons, 25 at right tackle and one start at left tackle against Furman in 2013. He was named second team All-SEC after playing 808 snaps in 2013, including every snap in seven of eight SEC games that year. He was equally dependable in 2014, anchoring the right tackle position once again.
He flirted with the idea of leaving for the NFL after his redshirt sophomore season, but Hawkins ultimately decided to return for at least one more year with the Tigers.
PROJECTING HIS IMPACT IN 2015
Hawkins will start the spring on the opposite side of LSU’s offensive line. He’s set to replace La’El Collins at left tackle, an offer that likely played in his decision to stay. This move should help boost his draft stock if he can prove to be a legitimate NFL-talent at left tackle.
It also makes sense for LSU. Hawkins is probably the most athletic lineman LSU has. His size and reach makes him a formidable protector on that left side, and he should sever as a seamless tradition from Collins. As the quarterbacks continue to get comfortable, they’ll need some security from a guy like Hawkins, and he should be up to the task.
He’ll still have to earn his spot at left tackle this spring. LSU has several different options for its final five-man combination up front, so Hawkins’ final position could change depending on how things shake out. But on paper he probably makes the most sense to move to the blindside, and based on his track record, you’d have every reason to believe he’ll excel on that side of the line as well.